Twitter doesn't have to delete all tweets on conspiracy theory around Dutch municipality
Twitter does not have to track down and delete all tweets that mention the Bodegraven conspiracy, the court ruled on Tuesday in summary proceedings the Dutch municipality filed against the social media company. According to the court, there is no practical way for Twitter to do as Bodegraven demands, AD reports.
“Twitter has done enough to remove unlawful messages about ‘the Bodegraven tale.’ It is going too far to remove other tweets, especially because, according to Twitter, there is no good filter to make. It would also affect many legal tweets,” the court said.
The conspiracy theory states that there is a network of people in the municipality of Bodegraven who have been ritually sexually abusing young children since the 1980s. The unfounded claim gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic when the spreaders of the theory said that RIVM director Jaap van Dissel was part of this “elite network.” The tale is based on the “recovered memories” of conspiracy theorist and former Bodegraven resident Joost Knevel.
The police and media extensively looked into the claims and found no evidence.
Bodegraven previously won a lawsuit in which the court ordered the main propagators of this conspiracy theory - Joost Knevel, Micha Kat, and Wouter Raatgever - to delete their tweets about the municipality. In these summary proceedings, filed in September, the municipality asked that Twitter actively scan for other users spreading the theory and delete those tweets as well. According to the municipality, locals continue to suffer from the spread of this conspiracy.
Twitter found the municipality’s requirements disproportionate. “What the municipality is doing here is shooting a machine gun around,” the company’s lawyer said in September.
The court ruled in favor of the tech giant. “Twitter has permanently suspended a specific Twitter account that contained defamatory and inflammatory tweets and also removed all tweets from that account. Twitter is not obliged to remove other tweets from others of its own accord,” the court ruled. “Twitter must respond immediately to concrete removal requests from the municipality.”